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Businessman accused of conducting illegal boat tours in Kaneohe Bay faces $180K fine

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:07 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is proposing a $180,000 fine against a boat owner accused of conducting unpermitted tours in Kaneohe Bay, despite repeated warnings to stop.

But community advocates and Hawaii leaders said the fine isn’t enough. They said that too much commercial activity is harming the fragile ecosystem of Kaneohe Bay.

“Every local person, everybody, who is trying to protect and perpetuate our natural resources ― including the ocean and the fish ― should pissed at this crap that continues to go on,” said Kawaikapuokalani Hewett of the Hawaii State Aha Moku.

Hewett and other Hawaiian leaders want the fines to be double to send a strong message to repeat offenders. They said the boat owner Thomas Bellit should be barred for 10 years from getting any type of use permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“You break those rules and regulations and your license gets taken away,” Hewett said.

“You’re not allowed to go back in. Why are we pussy footing around this issue?”

Between May and September, state investigators said they photographed dozens of people boarding Bellit’s boat “Carry On.”

They said Bellit conducted at least 13 tours from the Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor ― all without the required permits.

Harbor users said Bellit ferries the tourists from the harbor to the Kaneohe Sand Bar.

DLNR staff said they repeatedly warned Bellit that what he doing was illegal and that’s one of the reasons they’re proposing the stiff fine.

Bellit declined comment.

The Land Board will hold a hearing on the proposed fine during a Friday meeting.

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